In life, we all see the world through our own distinct lens – our lens matures and evolves overtime, shaped by past experiences, but nonetheless it reinforces the framework that we use to interpret the world and others around us. A truth about our human nature is when we approach things that are unknown and new, we use our previous experiences to attempt to shape our future ones. Over time these same lenses that we’ve trusted will lead us to straight into deeply ingrained types of cognitive bias, clouding judgement and becoming a roadblock between “our truth” and “the truth“.
You have a stained glass window in your house, and a handful of bees get inside. The bees rush towards the stained glass window in hopes of escape. The first bee rushes towards the frame and finds itself in front of a blue pane of glass, and sees the outside world as blue; the second bee comes, and flies towards a yellow pane - the next comes and sits on a triangle of red, the next on a square of purple, and so on. Then they start talking, which leads to an argument - all of the bees are correct in how they see their individual pane, but they're also wrong; if they could for a second take a step back, they would see the entire picture and not only their individual interpretation of the picture.
Where Adams uses the analogy to dissect and separate individual religion from the grander experience that religion can illicit, we can simply use it to understand levels of truth. Underneath where we each have our ‘truths’ – are our sorted cognitive biases that led us to our truth. Remove them, and we can distill down to the truth.
The term ‘Cognitive Bias‘ was first introduced by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in the beginning of the 1970’s. By their definition, a cognitive bias is a persons “systematic but purportedly flawed patterns of responses to judgment and decision problems.” Essentially, it’s saying that our brain fucks up and doesn’t see things as it should, it sees them as we have been taught to interpret them. Cognitive biases cause and reinforce preconceived notions, psychological errors, mental mistakes and missteps – overtime, these ideas can produce prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance. All in all, psychologically speaking, there are upwards of close to 200 types of cognitive bias that get in the way of our universal understanding – though, some are more common than others.
Do any of these sound remotely familiar? If not, maybe you have a status quo bias in preferring your current mode of thought – or a confirmation bias, as you focus on what you know and not what you don’t know (e.g. types of biases) – or a belief bias, that you aren’t biased even though other people are. The true issue with cognitive bias isn’t in having them – hell, we all have them – the trouble is in refusing to acknowledge, understand or change that same behavior that’s an issue. Hopefully the more you dive in, you’ll start the slow process of unpacking implicit types of bias that already exist within your mind.
So, how do we overcome our conditioning and start to uncover where our biases are? Milliseconds away at our fingertips, there’s a overwhelming wealth of information out there and we’re expected to respond to it just as fast as we uncover it. When we search for information and education, the way we choose to seek it out is within the comfort zone of our mind. Stepping outside of ourselves and finding multiple sources for our information is a good start, while discussing your findings with others can lead to a more well rounded understanding.
Acting in a more mindful sense, being present within the moment, can reduce our biases. Adding in yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises are an excellent way to start. When we are mindful and present, we no longer decide to rush to judgement but instead uncover the things in our mind that have been blocking us from getting there.
For more on understanding the different types of cognitive biases, here are a few fantastic articles, videos and books to ingest:
For the most part, I consider myself an upbeat rationalist, a positive pragmatist of sorts. I try and take the world as it comes: framing things in a true and positive light, holding myself accountable for understanding uncomfortable feelings and holding space for my emotions. But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies; from time to time – life can get my down and out and the grey cloud that lives in the corner of my mental state overrides the good feelings I try and project. Depression and anxiety start getting in the way – and whisperings of pessimism start to rain on my parade. In moments like those, I turn to my support system.
Half due to my childhood and my parents having split custody right when the internet was coming into being, half due to moving across a thousand miles over the course of the last three years – my life has evolved me into someone adept at processing emotions with a distant support system. It’s not exactly a skill set that’s wanted, or typically needed – but I’ve found that in quarantine this past year, it’s a skill set worth sharing.
I’ve feel – a lot. I feel deeply, often uncontrollably, and am affected often for days by sensitive information. Growing up in therapy, I realized that I simply feel the underpinnings of depression and grief in differing, unique and novel ways than most – and I’ve learned the best way to cope with them when you feel out of touch, physically, mentally and emotionally. In all, it’s also taught me better tools for how to deal with, hold space for, and transition out of emotional states which no longer serve me. I should preface this by saying that no, I’m not a therapist, I’m not a licensed psychologist and am in no way a professional grief counselor; however, I have been through my fare share of trials and tribulations, and sincerely others on their journey to brighter days and simply hope I can do the same for others.
From unshakable life experiences to minor disturbances, grief is an unavoidable truth that knocks us off our personal paths and often into uncharted, or at the very least – chaotic, emotional territory. An unfortunate tenant of living, grief afflicts us all at some point – no matter who your status, friends, family, or vocation. It’s essential that we have a mental tool kit that allows others, as well as ourselves, to hold space for important emotions.
Quarantine has done a number on many people, from the loss of family, friends and significant others down to the loss of their jobs, or semblances of normalcy. We’re all distant from each other, and it’s human nature to pine for human connection – especially under duress; being able to hold space for grief is an important facet in our relationships, and to discover new ways to do so in our “new” normal seems doubly important.
All emotions deserve equal mental weight, and there simply ‘bad’ emotions – the idea of a bad emotion is a personal pejorative we place on a moment in time; what can in one second be viewed as a ‘negative’ can easily be transmuted over time to be a ‘positive’. For example: you were unhappy in your vocation and have had to re-evaluate your job, maybe quitting – possibly being let go; in the moment, it’s stressful to find a new position – but months later, after you’ve found a new gig that you truly care about – you view the transition in a positive light.
Sure, one could just dismiss bad feelings and move on from them, but that means you’re choosing to avoid further knowledge of self and spring load your evolution. The fear is that by ignoring, passing over or not holding space for important emotions will create a negative feedback loop where you’re eventually out of sync with your mental space, potentially re-creating the same problems for yourself because you haven’t chosen to reconcile those very emotions.
One holds space for grief, so that they can rebuild emotionally – remember the lessons, accept their new truths and move forward with the mind, heart and soul in tact. In it’s most basic sense, to “hold space” for anything means that your intention as an outside influence is simply to exist with the other person, and let whoever is going through the emotions flow through them at their own pace. As the old adage goes, ‘one does not drown by falling in the water – one drowns by staying there’ and that can be extrapolated onto holding space for emotions that seem to get in our way of daily life. By holding space for others, we accept them for everything they are, for their humanity, their brilliance in handling life, and their beauty in wishing to transmute through their emotions. We actively build a more open and honest relationship, built with integrity and without judgement – and through those relationships, we evolve into better versions of ourselves.
While negotiating our own grief is one thing, it’s important to acknowledge that helping someone else with theirs is a bird of a completely different color and no two people are identical in the way they need to process their individual traumas and truths. Helping others in times of need instinctually reminds us of our own needs, for comfort, for closeness, and for community; and while learning the love languages of others, we can be reminded of what our own needs are in times of trial and tribulation.
First and foremost, the best way to be there for someone is by – well – being there. Being available, and being authentic and asking questions without judgement. Sometimes, just being in their ether and letting one know that they’re simply not alone can be the most helpful thing you can do. Here are a other few ways we can ‘hold space’ for others
Ask without prying; let them explore their emotions on their own accord and at their own speed
Give permission to others to explore their own innate wisdom and intuition without guiding or steering them through yours
Empower others to create their own reality, don’t take that power away by applying your own judgements or opinions
Reserve judgement and opinions, even if explicitly asked. What works for you on an emotional, mental and spiritual level doesn’t always translate into the life of others.
Remove your ego from their situation; this is not about you, it’s about them
Create a safe space to explore difficult emotions
Remind them that it’s okay to feel, and fail at moving forward from feelings, what’s important is understanding the feelings – not the speed at which we get over them, but the value of getting through them
Don’t force anyone down your own rabbit holes. It’s human nature to believe that we have the ‘best’ of all possible ways, mechanisms, etc to get through this life – what’s good for us, isn’t necessarily the best for others. Allow space for others to explore their unique paths and truths.
Now, back to love languages for a moment – there are essentially five types of love languages: sharing emotions and words of affirmation, sharing physical space and quality time, human touch, gifting and acts of service. So, how does this translate to a digital world? Thanks to quarantine and COVID, three of those five are a bit harder to do than before. Those who desire to be held and physically loved, or who need to be physically surrounded by others are feeling the hit much more than others. It’s important to acknowledge when that love language is being ignored. Thankfully, our current technology has allowed us to reach out to others and keep in touch – more or less; sure, the digital world we’re living in leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to holding space for our emotions and mental space but lately I’ve found it to be more helpful than hurtful.
Helping someone who needs physical touch? Send a written note, a stuffed animal, stress ball, or even some of their favorite snacks. If you’re assisting someone who could use quality time, set up a Zoom or a FaceTime call to check in – smiling is contagious, and we could really all use a dose of actual connection every now and again!
The human condition is a complex web, it would be remiss to say that grief isn’t part of it – but it’s only a part, it’s not the whole. As my mom used to and still tells me, ‘This, too, shall pass.’ The totality of the human condition, the complete nature of it, is one of love, one of perseverance, one of beauty – however ephemeral that might be. Emotionally, we are not islands – our human nature means that we thrive on communication, culture and connection. It’s in our human nature to reach out, to feel down to our core and to explore every facet of ourselves. If we’ve disconnected from our authentic selves, disallowing ourselves to marinate within our mental space and avoiding our emotional truths – that human connection becomes impossible, because our self connection has disintegrated. How could we possibly be kind to others, love others, and hold space for others – when we’ve declined to do so for ourselves? Having others around to remind you that you are enough the way you are, you are accepted the way you are, and that you will get through whatever you’re facing is an incredible feeling, a formidable bond, and tantamount to our experience on this Earth.
What are some ways that others have held space for you that have been beneficial? How have you held space for the grief of others?
Leave some helpful hints for other readers in the comments below.
For those looking for a bit more assistance, knowledge or both – I’ve put together a small list of resources to expand your emotional repertoire.
When I was younger, I thought the idea of ‘waking up on the wrong side of the bed’ was a silly notion; but thanks to 2020, I now know that one can wake up on the wrong side of an entire year. Not to say last year was pure chaos, dissonance and struggle – but, between COVID and quarantine, racial injustice, protests, the dissolution of the office of the 45th President, and three surgeries to recover from – I’d be remiss to think that I was in any way grounded in the present moment, nor efficient at using my time wisely.
Waking up and taking charge of your day is a powerful feeling; when the world feels out of control, doubly so. The fact of the matter is, the only thing we can personally control is ourselves; our mental space and mental dexterity, our boundaries and desires, our emotions and how we react. This year, I’ve recommitted myself to some necessary changes and have noticed my mindset shift by leaps and bounds, simply by implementing a solid, consistent and fulfilling morning routine.
Let’s start with something basic, but vital to this conversation: why should you create a dedicated morning routine? Besides being able to set the tone for your day, it let’s you control the clock and gives you some personal power back in your pockets. By choosing where we place our focus from the start of the day, we can both harness our potential energy and turn it kinetic, in addition to being able to attack the tasks at hand, schedule our time better and raise our productivity levels. I’ve honed in on some fantastic methods that have my mind, body and soul set right over these last few months and can’t wait to share them with you – so let’s jump into my morning routine!
Notoriously not a morning person, creating my morning routine literally took me 36 years. And it actually starts the night before; call me silly but I set the autodrip on our coffee pot and have it go off at the same time as my morning alarm – that way, the second I get up and at the day, there’s a fresh cup ready for me (because let’s face it, we all need caffeinated reinforcements!).
Then I head to the living room, get my essential oil diffuser kickin’ with an invigorating fragrance (more on aromatherapy later!), roll out the yoga mat and get down to business with Gaia. I’ve tried a few different yoga and workout apps for AppleTV, Gaia is hands down my favorite – probably because it’s so much more than just yoga; they really have things for the mind, body and spirit. Whether it’s an illuminating video on a variety of transcendental topics, diving into one’s meditation practice or browsing through their immense catalog of instructors and classes. Classes range from 10 minutes to an hour, at a variety of levels with instructors from every walk of life I’ve become quite fond of everything they offer, and even have a favorite yoga instructor (Tiffany Bush, you give me LIFE!).
Once I’m limbered up and a sweaty, happy mess of a human – I bust out a gratitude journal and my Animal Oracle Cards and take my metaphysical temperature for the day. I tackle ideas like what am I going to work on for the day, where in my spirit do I place my personal focus, and what tools do I need to become the best version of myself. One thing I’ve learned about gratitude journals, is that there is one for literally every personality – do you want one without dates, or with them? Do you want a full year of journaling or to jump in on a whim?
Keen on my personal evolution, I decided to splurge at the end of last year and am currently juggling between three different gratitude journals and three planners, that each offer something different and unique. To be fair, some I think are better for work life, like the Passion Planner, while others like the Writual Planner with daily, monthly and weekly Tarot spreads for self discovery are keen for those of us who have committed to the spiritual side of life.
Now, for the morning – I love setting my mind right by working with the Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal. The prompts are thoughtful and poignant, and if you’re like me and love a good doodle sesh – there’s plenty of space to both color, draw and explore. and jump in there a few times a week. Once I’ve given grace to the day, I’ll set up my Spirit Animal Oracle Cards, get into my Moonology Diary, and write a bit about how the card I’ve pulled relates to the moment.
Just like there’s a vast variety of journals and diaries, there’s no one right oracle, deck, Tarot Deck or runes stones. These things aren’t one size fits all souls; we each have a preference for what calls to us innately, and how the world resonates with us. Personally, Colette Baron-Reid’s deck is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever owned. Each card is embellished with impeccable, incredible detail.
If you’re looking for something a bit edgier, Kim Krans’ The Wild Unknown has an incredible set decks – whether you want Animal Cards, Tarot Cards, or my personal favorite from their assortment – the Archetype Cards; plus, their journal is super fun and open form. Some people still have a preference for old school tarot decks, and I’ll use those some mornings as well. I have several different tarot decks of my own, from a Thoth Tarot deck (technically, two of them) to the Rider-Waite Deck, my Cat Oracle Tarot cards and the circular Tarot of the Cloisters. Just like the animal cards, there are also tarot decks for every person. Don’t worry if you found this paragraph confusing, I’ll dive more into Tarot (a true art and love of mine) at another time.
Last but most certainly not least, after set my intentions and tone for the morning; I give myself a few minutes locked in Meditation. When your brain more closely resembles a web browser with dozens of tabs open (a la, mine), meditation becomes a great way to settle into your breath and the present moment. Some days, I’ll take it to the shower or bath – others, I’ll go back to my Savasana and marinate in the moment. Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, and boost mood and mental health. Gaia has been a fantastic resource for guided meditations, as well as applications from Calm to Headspace.
What tips and tricks do you have for settling into your morning and manifesting what you need for the day?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the way that the Coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 has been making it’s way across the globe in an international emergency event that most generations simply have never been part of. And if you have been living under a rock, I hope you’re keeping your rock 6 feet apart from other rocks.
First things first, let’s all admit – these past few weeks have been eye opening, scary, anxiety inducing, etc. Please remember to reach out and check in on each other. HOW ARE YA! How are your family and friends holding up? Have you been remembering to try and get outside, and hold your head up high? We’ll get through this, but we need to remember – the human condition is the necessity to connect, – so let’s connect! Any new books, hobbies, shows you’ve discovered? Any questions or anxieties other people can help answer? Anyone learned a new joke or got a funny meme to share?
Up in Seattle, we are under a Stay at Home order until at LEAST May 5th. It’s a ghost town, traffic is non existent and I’m anxious. But I’m reminding myself: I am healthy, I am okay. My friends are healthy. My family is healthy. We are okay. We will be okay.
But please remember: This is GLOBAL. As a people so are we – we are the human organism, the human condition. Are you healthy? AWESOME. Do you know anyone over 60, with a medical condition or pregnant? Then do your best to keep THEM safe. What is happening does not discriminate based on age, sex, religion or location. Everyone is panicking in their own way. Be kind. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on things.
This is not an excuse to not vote in the upcoming election, if anything this is why we need to mobilize and unite as a nation. The current administration seems to be doing their best to delay testing, from NPR’s reporting – if they can prove our numbers remain low (even if they’re low from lack of testing) they believe it can boost a re-election campaign.
With the decimation of vital industries with hourly workers and a reduction in both business and working hours – there’s a chance for unemployment to balloon again. We need economic safeguards in our communities and states that prevent families and small business on having to default on their loans, mortgages or their rent. We need legislation that prevents utilities from being shut off for non payment. We need UBI, Universal Basic Income, because the economy will essentially tip on its head once the only people who can afford ANYTHING are only the 1%. We need Universal Health Care. There are people, homeless, immigrant, that do not have access to healthcare currently – Washington has reopened their health care election coverage and I hope other states have; but many people still can’t afford THAT version of health care and the only way to truly stop this pandemic is to both test and treat everyone. If you’re for those points above, let me tell you about this guy, Bernie….but we’ll do that in a latest post.
For me: I got a “flu”-like bug twice in three weeks in in January, one time three days after getting the flu shot, I had a fever of 102, body chills, a headache and nausea, it lasted for 4 days; that was when this was all starting – I’m starting to think I had and then got over COVID-19, but without proper access to testing I will not know. I finally finished Walden. I stated a cool book on The Golden Ratio. I started making essential oil perfumes. I tried my best to not freak out.
Now, in the midst of all the ‘Stay at Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ and ‘Safer in Place’ orders around the country – it’s becoming more imperative than ever that even though we maintain a safe physical distance, that our social nature – our human nature, stays in tact. Thankfully, living in the digital age there are an infinite amount of resources available that make it feel like you’re not so alone.
Keep Your Head Up with These Tips and Tricks
Join a Book Club: Even though reading is a singular activity, that doesn’t mean you can’t make reading social, get a profile on Good Reads. My latest – Walden, by Thoreau, was something I’d been trying to get through for over a year – but by it’s simple nature, and being written by the most famed Transcendentalist, I thought it would be weird to attempt to rush through it and I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s honestly the perfect pick for anyone who is negotiating with any sort of physical isolation from others, and ways we can dive into our own minds.
Create a Collaborative Playlist: Music is one of those things that has the ability to bring people together in a million ways, from when times are good to when times are hard. I’m a self proclaimed Audiophile, and I’m sure most of my friends are, too. I’ve been digging on Spotify for a million different reasons, whether is their end of year analytical roundup, their new artist discovery or the ability to dive steadfast into a band’s discography. Lately, one of my favorite functions in Spotify is the ability to make a collaborative playlist. A few years ago for my wedding, we had our guests get down in a collaborative playlist before the big day and let me tell you – it made our wedding party just that much more fun. In light of everything currently happening, I thought it would be a fun way for my friends to share their latest favorites – so go ahead, jam out and add one or two of your favorites, too!
Go To a Digital Festival: Sign up for Youtube and Twitch and watch a live stream of a concert, Insomniac Event’s had to forgo their fabled Beyond Wonderland festival this year due to current circumstances; and as always, they turned a negative into the most positive of pictures by hosting ‘Virtual Raves’ for both Beyond Wonderland last weekend then Hard Summer Staycation this weekend. From the Brownie’s and Lemonade Squad, we’ve been treated to amazing sets from world renowned and up and coming artists through their Desert Mirage series and last but certainly not least, big big love to both Mad Decent, Beatport and the infinite amount of artists out there that are filling our spirits, warming our hearts, and letting us shake our groove thangs. Some of my favorites from this weekend have already been posted – check’em out!
Foster a Floof: If you’re without a furry friend, or looking to add to your collection – this is a great time to try fostering a pet! It’s proven that having animals around can lower your anxiety while providing adorable stress relief, and plus, being altruistic and caring for others is one of the quickest ways to get out of your own head and into a healthy mental space. The pros at Petfinder have a great web-tool to find local shelters, or simply jump into Yelp or Google Maps and find your closest one. If you happen to have any free time, and aren’t under a ‘SIP’ order, volunteering at the shelter’s is also a great feel good activity!
Be Social with Social Media: In my personal opinion, as a society we are incredibly lucky that what we are going through with the Coronavirus has come at a time where we are vastly, deeply interconnected within our communities. With the Internet, streaming media and social media – we can maintain some semblance of normalcy while going through this strange transitory phase by reaching out to each other. I’ve never been much of a fan of FaceTime, or of Video Conferencing, but I’ve vastly changed by tune over the last few weeks. It’s been lovely to see my friends, cheers them over the phone, and really see them smile – even if we’re miles away.
Sprinkle Some Joy: The biggest takeaway for me is this – you can get through anything with a good spirit, so do things that bring joy, do things that make you happy and do things that make those around you in a better mood. Share a joke, hold back criticism, be gracious, ask questions, engage, laugh, and then maybe – just maybe, share a few memes, they’re honestly great ice breakers if there’s someone you haven’t chatted with in forever. I have a small collection that have been helping me through – maybe they can be just as useful for you!
How are you holding up during this chaotic moment? Any surprising ways you’ve found to be social even in light of being self quarantined? Let me know in the comments below and let’s get through this together ❤
“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” – Kurt Vonnegut –
Usually, when I delve into my ideas and reach into the cobwebbed corners of my brain for a post…I can knock it out in a day, maybe two; at the very most a week. But this is something that’s been coming for at least two years; maybe even more. Originally, I thought it was the festival induced nostalgia of the Springtime, or the evolution into the downtime of Fall and the family oriented nature of the Holiday Season; or, maybe it was shoving my life into a U-haul two times over, moving away from everything I’ve known and towards the person I want to be. But, the more and more I separate myself from this feeling that’s been in the pit of my stomach – the more I realize that no, it’s just me; it’s always been me. Me being nostalgic and searching, me attempting to analyze the past and postulate a formulaic method of the future as I dissected the nature of love, empathy and friendship.
The human condition is one of connection; and at times it seems that we can’t help but to connect – to love, to find ourselves in another and to forge bonds outside of ourselves. Coddled by ego and love, protected by loyalty and exponentially expounded upon by experience, our relationships are fragile beings, brought into this world each time our human vibrations intersect with one another’s. Eventually, even if we’ve branded ourselves as an independent being of light and love – those relationships become what define us and our realities, irregardless of how routine or random it might seem. But on the other side of connection, you have the dichotomy of loss and breaking apart. Losing friends is tough, but the tragedy lies in falling apart from the living – from watching the bridges burn and looming in their flames, somberly separating after a difference of opinion, or more tumultuous – of life.
The Give and Take of Friendship
All relationships are a game of emotional catch; with a natural give and take, a push and pull – a simple supply and demand economics of personal happiness and social responsibility. They’re like a battery, or a gas tank, or a freshly rooted flower – filling, emptying and growing in symbiosis. But if you drain one too much, or overfill it another day – you’re putting unnecessary strain into the relationship, infusing it with a toxic nature, even if the relationship itself doesn’t seem toxic yet.
In the duality of life, friendships can only thrive when its seed is watered from both ends. What makes someone your friend? What propels them to flutter inside your heart and fill your mind with wonder and joy? How much endured emotional pain is worth the familial pleasure of friendship? Love of any kind is an investment – familial love, fraternal love, romantic love – every time you interact, you give part of yourself away. Time is a human construct, but there are still only so many moments in a day – how and with whom do you choose spend them?
The Benefits of Boundaries
Friendship is malleable and free-form like an emotional rubber-band, full of flexibility and movement; but even the strongest rubber bands snap under extreme pressure. Boundaries are essential to any budding relationship and are key to building the foundation of a successful one. If you fly into a friendship blindly without thought, you could end up like Icarus and burn yourself on the sun of your relationship. The most important boundaries are the ones are those you build with yourself: what you will and won’t stand for, what personality traits you covet, what you’re willing to let slide and what you abhor. You can only give yourself away so much before there’s none of you left to hold for yourself, none of you left to care for you – and let’s be honest, if you can’t find time or energy to care for yourself, it’s a bit paradoxical to be giving it away. Conversely, when it comes to the people in your social circle – it seems anachronistic that enforcing boundaries would build a stronger bond, but by not having any boundaries you’re saying you’ll fall for everything; intelligently implementing them not only builds trust, but creates a solid foundation for your friendship to stand on.
Know When To Let Go
Rarely does a relationship ever stay on the same trajectory it once was – which admittedly is half the fun of mutual growth; but like a mirror, once it’s been broken, it can’t be put back together in the same way. Small scale issues from broken boundaries to unspoken grievances can compound over time, eventually tilting the emotional scale in one lopsided way or the other.
The house that friendship builds is based off of mutual boundaries and a solid foundation; with walls of security and support, and open windows into your heart and soul. If built on honesty, loyalty and sincerity, it an move mountains – but if any of those core tenants are broken, the relationships trajectory is hijacked, and the aftershocks can ripple its tenants to their core. Sometimes, the strongest thing you can do is to let those people go, and let the relationship dissolve into the ephemerality of life – for both of you.
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”
When I younger, my mom pulled me aside one day and told me: you don’t have to like everyone, and not everyone has to like you. The first time she told me, I was 8; but the second time, I was 24 – and the words had infinitely more weight. Some people are meant to be part of your world, in a mutual exchange of love, empowerment and encouragement while others serve as reminders and stepping stones; they’re the loose change at the bottom of your purse, waiting to be tossed back into the wishing well of life. If you’ve invested properly in yourself, if you are honest with yourself about what you have to offer – you’ll attract that energy back; and if you’re making a worthy investment in yourself by creating boundaries, it shows. At the end of the day, the most important friendship to reconcile is the one with yourself.
How do you choose to strengthen your bonds and create healthy boundaries in your relationships?
Lies. Big or small, white or monstrous – we’ve all told them, and to believe the contrary would be – you guessed it – a lie. According to a recent study, we lie in 25% of our interactions. Both in action and as concrete ideas, lies can build an unstable foundation in any relationship, familial, romantic, platonic – and even your relationship with yourself. And these untruths aren’t confined to our external environment, either; for every falsehood we voice out loud, there are a handful of others that we tell to ourselves. Unfortunately, the lies we tell ourselves pave the way for the way we lie to the world.
In contrast to Mark Twain, who saw them as ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’; I choose to think of them as white lies, grey lies and black lies, all sitting on a sliding scale of deception. Let’s do a thought experiment for a second. Quick as a bunny, what’s the last lie you told? Did you tell your boss you needed more time on a project, when you’ve actually just been procrastinating? Did you misrepresent yourself in the way you dress, catering to a specific subset of society? Did you tell your squad that you’d meet them for drinks tonight when all you plan on doing is curling up on the couch? Did you tell an artistic friend that you enjoyed their last piece of work when you were anything but interested? Did you tell yourself you didn’t want seconds when you’re still hungry? From half truths to complete falsehoods, none of them are honest – but, one could argue, they’re socially necessary.
From an early age when we couldn’t yet grasp the veracity of the truth when contrasted with the stark emptiness of a false promise, or erroneous nature of a flat out lie – we babbled, we balked, then we talked and walked. We expressed ourselves emotionally, in our own truth, while slowly learning the truths around us. Leaves don’t dance down from trees, they fall with the assistance of gravity; I’d rather believe the former, but the later screams accuracy. And that’s the thing, lies always start small – innocent, lacking any semblance of personal harm or distrust.
White lies are the lies we use on a daily basis to navigate the world. Telling the cashier that your day is going well even if it’s anything but, entertaining a lunchtime meeting with your boss when you just wanted to have your head in a book, compromising on restaurant choice because your friend’s appetite is heavily invested and you could give a shit. Yes, you could be honest in all occasions: My day is actually shit, how long do you have to talk; Sorry, I would rather be alone than talk to you; No, I’m not interesting in eating there. Yet, you don’t – because it’s simpler, easier, almost more necessary to give in to the dance of life. However, each of those scenarios becomes exponentially trickier the more you you’ve seen the cashier, the longer you’ve known your boss or just how well you know your friend.
They say that improvisational comedy won’t work if you continually say ‘No’ to scenarios, and life isn’t much different. Though white lies are most certainly lies, how awkward or tense would you have made each of those situations for both parties by delving into the veracity of the situation? In an economic sense, you understand what you’re giving and you’re complicit in what you’re getting. What transforms the white lies into the grey ones, and the damned black dishonesty, are the people you’re deceiving and the levels of duplicity you’re willing to go through. The closer you consider the relationship, the more harm dishonesty inflicts. Conversely, the more effort you put into the lie, the more disastrous the backdraft.
Beyond being kinder and flat out honest (things I like), the truth is also easier to remember and never has to be defended – because, simply put, the truth just is. It exists whether or not we want to acknowledge it. It’s like evolution, climate change and science – it’s there, and life becomes more valuable when you accept the truth and move forward with it in your pocket.
The economy of friendship is built from the supply and demand backbones of truth. Though we would love to believe that we are infallible and incapable of telling lies, the fact of the matter is we all bend fact to make fable from time to time. Which begs the question not of why do others lie, but why do we lie? Comfort, ease, and emotional protection top the list – the comfort, ease and protection of our own ego.
Sometimes, the truth is boring and as orators and storytellers by nature, we yearn for the truth to be more exciting. But more often than not, the truth is a a difficult pill to swallow – let alone force feed to another soul; it becomes an alarming reason for pause, a conversation starter, relationship ender, or an anxiety induced call to internal calamity. All the while lies, time and time again, are used to smooth over any future scars before the threat of pain is on the horizon. The problem is this – lies are akin to using a bandaid to stop a gunshot wound; it might cover the wound and provide a momentary solution, but it’s not going to stop the bleeding or the pain. While, on the other hand, intimate trust is more like a mirror – once it’s broken, it can never be put back together quite the same again; and lies have the innate ability to dismantle relationships altogether. This brings about a new problem – and I’ll leave it to Nietzsche to summarize: “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that I can never believe you again.”
None of us wants to believe the people in their lives to be liars, or dishonest in any way. Yet knock out one of the mosaics in the stained glass window of your relationship with a lie and you’re bound to shine light on an emotional situation. Knock too many down, and the vibrant image has been replaced with a new vision of clarity. How many lies does one need to tell to be removed from our inner circle and emotionally placed outside of the intimate confines of our reality?
How many lies do we need to tell ourselves before we realize that we don’t have to be what the world wants us to be? We can be unapologetically ourselves, with all of our faults and idiosyncrasies, where our true preferences are wrapped up in the fibers of your ego and expunged through every fiber of your being. Once you’ve lived honestly with yourself, there’s no going back – being honest with the world you cultivate and curate feels like living with love in every step; once attained, it feels like the only way to live.
No matter the circumstances, next time you’re about to fib, falter, misspeak, or flat out lie – wonder what you’re lying to yourself about first, and ask yourself why.
“I watched this movie called “Liar Liar” and the message was, *Don’t* lie; and that was a smart movie.“
This Friday, the stars are aligning in the most beautiful of ways. First and foremost, Spring will finally be sprung! Living in California, we’re a tad spoiled with the weather – but with Spring comes Festival Season, which makes me all sorts of giddy like a kid on their first day of Summer Camp with the best snacks in their lunchbox and a stuntin’ new do. Spring means love blossoms from the heart like flowers from the bud, that the happy humans and beautiful brains of Los Angeles will be out and about, spanning rooftops, lounges and underground affairs while enjoying laughter and a light evening breeze. The Spring Equinox is more than ushering in the new season with the idea of rebirth, regeneration and growth. Known as the Vernal Equinox to some, it’s also the time of year when the suns shines directly on the equator of our slightly shifted home planet – giving us hypothetically equal amounts of day and night. Derived from latin roots, equinox translates into ‘Equal Nights’ but that isn’t always so. As it turns out not only does your attitude depend on your latitude, as Kanye muses, but your equinox does, too. Depending on where you’re sitting on the Earth’s axis, you’re going to have your equinox at slightly different dates surrounding the equinox. The closer you are to the poles, the closer you are to celebrating the equinox on the ‘Equinox’ – our actual equinox in Los Angeles was on the 16th; so good news for us, the days are just going to keep getting longer! But no matter, at 3:45 PM in LA, 22:45 UTC, the First Point of Aries will usher in the Spring Equinox in sweet, serene style.
A point of balance in the world, the Spring Equinox brings with it a beautiful time to lay plans into motion, forge a new friendship or enter into that romantic relationship you’ve been tip-toeing around. Spring is a time to expound upon chances and effectively be reborn within yourself. Go start a new project, follow your passion and add a bit of spark to your life and watch your world shine. This equinox occurs with the moon at one of of it’s closest points to Earth’s atmosphere, making it a ‘Supermoon‘!
Not only does the 20th mark our Spring Equinox, but we’re all about to get an incredibly special treat. In a monstrous celestial celebration for all of Earth’s creatures (and maybe a few on Venus and Mars as well), on Friday we’ll be treated to a rare bird: the total solar eclipse. In fact, it’s been almost a year and a half since the last total eclipse back in November of 2013. If you want your brain to explode just slightly, try this on for size: it’s been over 350 years since there was a total eclipse during the spring equinox! The last time these two celestial events coincided was supposedly all the way back in 1662, and it won’t be happening again until 2034! The next time they appear simultaneously will thankfully be within my lifetime, but noting the odds – that’s a bit of luck as well!
Unfortunately for those of us in the Americas, we’ll have to live vicariously through our brothers down under and the lads across the pond in Europe. The next time we’ll get our gander at an eclipse of any sort in the US will be August 21, 2017. Mark your cell phone calendars and etch it in your mind, it’ll be a day to remember.
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where you can see the Solar Eclipse – please, please, please: take precautions with your eyes! The sun is a powerful ball of energy, bursting with life and just because the moon is passing over it doesn’t mean you should stare into it. If you want to appreciate the full glory of the eclipse, there are special shades you can buy – and special lenses for your camera if you’re in the mood to get a stellar snapshot.
For more details on Friday’s Eclipse, these two infographics from NASA and Space.com sum it up very nicely:
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